Improving the CCTV images in Social Media

Over the past few years I have made numerous mention of images and videos on-line, most recently a video on YouTube and images from ‘screen-snaps’. The most common images posted are the ‘who is this person?’ image. They are posted on-line and in the media for the purposes of recognition. When used correctly, it is a valuable method to quickly disseminate information to a large number of people.

It doesn’t help matters though, when simple but important pre-processing is not completed prior to publication.


Posting poor images without clarification diminishes the value of the image and increases the chances of incorrect recognition intelligence. Some of the comments on the twitter feed about this image surrounded its poor quality.

So, what have we got, and what could we do?

1. Is this a screen-snap? Quite possibly. This will increase noise, produce incorrect colour and decrease clarity. Getting the original recorded image is the first job.

2. Two persons in motion, and the interlacing artefacts can clearly be seen. Of course the image will be distorted without de-interlacing….. but you can’t de-interlace a screen snap!

3. Decrease motion blur. Might be hard but a small amount of motion blur may be able to be corrected.

3. Basic colour correction. The first thing digital compression does to an image is reduce the values in an image.

4. Document processing filters & techniques

5. Save and document new image

6. Publicise on-line

So, its taken a couple of minutes longer… BUT, you now have a much higher quality image, with higher evidential integrity and a higher chance of positive recognitions.

De-interlacing in FIVE - before and after

De-interlacing in FIVE – before and after

By Spreadys Posted in EEPIP

3 comments on “Improving the CCTV images in Social Media

  1. Couldn’t agree more David!
    I posted a tweet on a similar vein a few months back
    ( )
    and ended up having a bit of a ding dong with a well known US security website.
    The simple notion that a few minutes well spent by any constabulary on enhancing a CCTV image pre release, could save many hours and a small fortune in dealing with the hoped for public response, was somehow lost on them.
    The ultimate irony I suppose is that in many everyday situations, if the primary images were more appropriate for Forensic Surveillance use, or to put it another way, the CCTV system had been properly profiled, planned, deployed and operated, less post incident enhancement would perhaps be required, and more effort could possibly be spent on working up some of the finer detail in more challenging cases.
    Interesting to note that in your example, the GMP release of two lads running trackside, appears to have been extracted from a larger ‘contextual’ platform image, which does rather beg the question as to what happened in terms of securing any identifiable facial images of the suspects, when they were either entering, passing through or leaving the Metrolink system?

    • Thanks… Its getting painful to view most now. The quality is actually reducing in my opinion. Why?
      It is clear from speaking with colleagues that cuts in police resources are resulting in corners being cut. One of those corners is the correct acquisition and management of digital multimedia evidence. The next is the forensic enhancement or clarification of an image, in accordance with guidance such as the digital imaging procedure, for the purpose of recognition. Lastly there are few controls or quality assessment prior to publication.
      There are a few Forces that do it well and perhaps, in order to balance the argument I should mention them in a future post.

      • Sad to say, but from my side of the table, most CCTV appeals have been way past painful for more years than I can remember.
        I’d have to agree with your initial assessment on challenges within the policing service in an ‘age of austerity’, but quite frankly, the mass dissemination of useful information to serving officers, shouldn’t be a significant cost issue in our age of modern communication.
        I happened to ask the College of Policing at a recent event, how much training is provided to front line officers on CCTV, and the response was pretty much along the lines of “training, what training?”.
        As you rightly say David, some forces appear to be better than others at CCTV product management ( in all it’s guises), but universally I’d suggest that the biggest problem is with front end failings in the CCTV systems themselves, not providing adequate imagery for post event investigations.
        If I were to take a reasonable guesstimate as to the scale of the problem, I would unhesitatingly venture to suggest that improvements in one form or another could be made in perhaps 90 – 95% of CCTV systems currently operating in the UK.
        So somewhat depressingly, unless I can see a positive move towards adopting CCTV Operational Standards and the improvements that would be driven through the process, things may well get worse in the short term, before we start to see the glow of an infra red lamp at the end of the tunnel.

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